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Dusty Trails to Jesus

By BILL KENT

Columnist

 

In Idaho, you find mountains, rivers, cows, sheep, bears, wolves, potatoes, trees, ranches, logging camps, silver mines and wide open areas between towns. You don’t see a lot of churches. The people live far apart and have a strong independent streak. Many people still live off the land and keep a frontier spirit. Traditional church programs don’t appeal to some in the West. In these areas, some Christians are blazing new paths while continuing to use the same Bible.
David and Sue Kite grew up in the Carolinas. They have raised Quarter Horses for 40 years. For 20 years, David served as a traditional pastor with a church building as a home base. Now he and his wife offer worship services in sale barns and rodeo arenas in four different locations throughout southeastern Idaho. Worshippers wear jeans with big belt buckles, boots and ten gallon hats. A band plays Gospel music with a country sound. Offerings are placed in a boot or a cowboy hat. New Christians are baptized in rivers or horse troughs. On a weeknight, Christian men teach roping and riding skills as a service to the community. The Kites are part of the Wilderness Association of Cowboy Churches.
When David preaches, he uses homespun illustrations familiar with ranchers.  He might read James 4:8 which says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Then he brings a nervous colt out there in the arena in front of the crowd. This young horse learns to trust him and realizes the safest place is next to David. That’s how it is with us and Jesus. So many things pull us away from God but we are much better off when He’s right by our side and we learn to trust Him.
In the 1700s, George Whitefield didn’t wait until he got inside a church building to speak about God. He talked to fellow passengers on a big boat crossing the ocean, prisoners in jail, and thousands of outcasts gathered in an open field. He was just as happy to speak to one person about Jesus as to large crowds. The parables of Jesus show us to use what is familiar to explain spiritual matters to seekers. We don’t change the message, but we find fresh ways to deliver eternal truth. “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some,” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Bill Kent, Pastor of Pitts Baptist Church